072616sakura3A specialty at Sakura Sushi is the Floating Island appetizer. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


WFL what's for lunch?In what might be the tiniest sushi bar on the Greater Red Bank Green, PieHole finds a lively, amusing, and loyal customer base.

And at Sakura Sushi, located in in the Acme shopping center on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, it’s easy to strike up conversation with fellow diners, with just four sushi bar seats and four small tables occupying the diminutive space.
072616sakura4Customer Jessica Titian demonstrates the fine art of opening a bottle of Japanese soda. The assorted sushi lunch special menu comes with soup and salad, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

072616sakura5A single sushi chef handles all of the sushi orders with a methodical, no-nonsense demeanor.

Ordering a meal to go, PieHole turns from the cash register to find customer Jessica Titian happily waiting for the Floating Island appetizer that she ordered for lunch.

“Have you ever had a Japanese soda? There’s a trick to opening it, you know,” she says. Demonstrating how to remove the cap and then push it into the the neck of the bottle, she pops the glass marble to release the carbonation in the soda.

Owner Sam Lieu opened the family-run restaurant in August, 2001, and Titian’s been coming here from the start, she says.

“It’s always been the same, and it fills up quickly,” she says. “Oh, and the prices are great too.”

Her Floating Island order, known as Treasure Island in most other Japanese restaurants, arrives and she digs in. It’s half an avocado filled with diced tuna, salmon, and yellowtail served on a bed of shredded daikon radish, drenched in ponzu sauce and sprinkled with tobiko or red Japanese caviar and toasted sesame seeds.

Polishing off her lunch, Titian says, “All of this, and no carbs!”

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The place is now filled with lunch customers, so we grab our takeout and head home. There, in the thoughtfully packed lunch bag, we find a cup of miso soup and a fresh tossed salad dressed with the ubiquitous orange-colored ginger dressing. The soup stayed warm while the salad was cool and crisp.

The assorted raw fish sushi order ($8.95) includes a tuna roll cut into six pieces and four pieces of sushi, including tuna, salmon, shrimp and a tender-silky slice of fluke.

The addition of a small container of soy sauce instead of the hard-to-open packets that we usually get with our take-out order is a nice detail. Dipping the tip of the sushi into the little cup is much more pleasant than squeezing the sauce onto the fish.

Sakura Sushi is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch Tuesday through Saturday. It reopen sat 4 p.m. for dinner and is closed on Monday.